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Golfers spend a lot of time worrying about getting into the correct positions, making a solid impact -Am I set up behind the ball? Did I make a full turn? Are my hands leading the clubhead? -but they often forget why those things are important. Everything you do during the swing should contribute to getting the club in a great position at impact.

You probably know that the so-called moment of truth, when club meets ball, is influenced by what you do on the downswing. But your position at the top of the backswing also has a major influence, as does your address position. Based on your skill level, your focus should be different.

I’ll show you how each position affects impact, and I’ll offer drills to improve them, whether you’re trying to break 100, 90 or 80. Master them, and I guarantee you’ll reach your scoring goals.

SETUP


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Slide your hand down to your knee to set your shoulder tilt. (click to enlarge)

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(click to enlarge)

1. TILT YOUR SHOULDERS
When you’re trying to break 100, the setup is most important, starting with the spine, which should tilt slightly away from the target. This happens because your right hand sits lower on the grip than your left, and it allows you to make a good turn behind the ball. Many amateurs set up with their shoulders level, making it hard to turn back correctly. To get into the tilted position. slide your right hand down the side of your leg until it touches your knee. Then grip the club. A solid setup position is the first domino to building a good swing.

IMPACT


image4_small2. STAY TILTED, OPEN YOUR HIPS
When looking at my impact position from a camera placed in front of me on my target line (left), you can see the proper relationship between my shoulders and hips. My shoulders are square to the target line, while my hips have rotated and are almost facing the target. In fact, the position of my shoulders here is similar to where they were at address. My right arm is well under my left, indicating an on-plane delivery into the ball.


Most amateurs swing down from outside the target line and cut across the ball. This is known as swinging “over the top.” Instead, you want your spine to tilt away from the target, just like it did at address. The hips rotate open, but the shoulders stay quiet to maintain the body coil you created at the top of the backswing (see Breaking 90). This coil is a key to creating clubhead speed.

BACKSWING

image6_small1.FOCUS ON ARM POSITIONS
If your goal is to break 90, think about the top of your swing. Maintain the spine tilt you created at address. This tilt is prevalent in every sport where something is hit or thrown, and it sets up a natural transfer of weight on the downswing from the right side to the left. That allows the arms to deliver the club from an on-plane position. Check your swing at the top in a mirror: Your left arm should be in line with your shoulders, at a 90-degree angle to your spine. Your right forearm should be supporting the club, as if you were holding a waiter’s tray in your right hand.


IMPACT


image5_small2. KEEP THE ARM AND SHAFT IN LINE

If you reached the top of your swing with your arms in the correct positions, you’re in the most efficient spot to attack the ball.


Your left arm should be in line with your shoulders at the top.

Your left arm should be in line with your shoulders at the top.

You can swing down with the fewest number of compensations. Here at impact, you can see that my right arm forms a straight


line with the club’s shaft directly back to the ball. This is the position you’re striving for because it means you’ve unfolded your right arm from the “waiter’s tray” position at the top-a key to clubhead speed-and delivered the club on plane. You can also see that my right foot has rolled inward instead of coming up on its toes, which is a common fault of amateurs who swing down to the ball from outside the target line. The club’s path into the ball is as important to hitting a straight, solid shot as the position of the clubface. Your right foot can help indicate the direction of that path.


DOWNSWING

1. LEAD THE ATTACK WITH YOUR HANDS image9_small
If you want to break 80, concentrate on how you start the downswing. Let your hands and arms accelerate toward the ball. Your hips should stay fairly quiet until your arms get down to about waist high, then they should rotate toward the target. This downswing sequence is vital to attaining significant clubhead speed and the proper angle of approach into the ball.


Practice starting down by throwing a ball at the one you address.

Practice starting down by throwing a ball at the one you address.

To hone this arms-first move, get into your golf posture holding a ball in your right hand. Mimic the backswing with your right arm, then start down by throwing the ball at the one on the ground (left). You should be able to hit it at least 60 percent of the time.

IMPACT


image10_small2. YOUR HANDS WIN THE RACE
The payoff for allowing the hands to start the downswing is that they should easily beat the clubhead back to the ball. Here, I’m posing in the correct impact position and also demonstrating one of my favorite drills for what it feels like. You’ll notice my hands are ahead of where the ball would be but my head and clubhead are behind it. This hands-ahead position, set up by the downswing, ensures a crisp, downward hit. Keeping the head back helps the shot fly at the proper height. By laying a club on the ground and pushing against the butt end of the grip, you can practice returning the club face to square at impact. The weight of the club on the ground provides resistance, which prompts you into the correct hands-forward position. Many amateurs let the clubhead pass the hands before impact, producing a weak shot, typically fat or thin.